Pressure Valve Release

Old 12-08-2002, 08:22 AM
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Pressure Valve Release

Hello Gang.

Detached Alone's little blast of steam on Mikedad's post (welcome Mikedad!) has inspired me to do a little venting of my own. It regards labels and attitudes, and I'm not sure if there really is a point, but the thoughts are clogging my brain arteries.

I never call Rasputin "my A". Never have. In the first place, he's not "mine", nor is his "A-dom". "A" isn't all he is, nor is it most of what he is. I haven't minded calling him a duck, because that's kind of cute. I also haven't minded calling him a host of ugly names in the heat of anger. Instead of calling him "my A", I have given him a nickname after one of the most reviled figures in history. I suspect he would find that preferable at first because it is more poetic, but not after he thought about it.

I guess Detached resents the "A" label. I really doubt that many people here are using it to minimize the drug or alcohol user in their life. It's just shorthand. It saves time. We are talking about the abuser here, not our child who isn't or our husband/sister/mom who isn't. I can see how the label might be viewed as dehumanizing. On the other hand, I can also remember in the deepest part of his drugging, Rasputin barely being recognizable as a human. And he certainly didn't treat me like one. So maybe there is some of that going on, too.

Rasputin very much resents being called an addict. I try not to say it any more, but I still think it. His point is that drugs were never his real problem, they were his escape from his real problem. I have tried to explain that this is not a new idea and that everybody knows that already. "Addict" is a descriptive term for someone who is physically dependent on a substance.

Now, I am not obtuse, and I understand his idea. Though "addict" has a very specific and precise meaning, it conjures other images just the same. To him, and addict is a filthy, street wandering, purse snatching guttersnipe who would sell his own mother to marauding Pirates to get money for drugs. He can't recognize himself in his own idea of what an addict is. I think to most of the anons who post here, the idea of "addict" has some other common elements besides just the quality of addiction. We think of someone who steals, lies and otherwise manipulates to get money for drugs. We think of someone who has put ordinary social standards behind his desire to get high FOR WHATEVER REASON. At least, I do. And that describes Rasputin whether he likes it or not. (And he also spent some time street wandering and being filthy. And while he did not sell his mother, he sure did steal from her.)

Another reason, I think, that anons use (possibly overuse) the word "addict" is as a way of giving an excuse to the substance abuser. Oh, yes. I said EXCUSE. Say you have this person in your life who is disrespectful, spends the rent money on crack, lies to you, doesn't care if you or your kids(or cats) get fed, and just generally seems to focus on nothing else but how to get high next. How can you possibly put up with that kind of relationship? Do you treat people like that when you're depressed? or lonely? or nervous? or directionless? Maybe, maybe not. Often, however, because of our own odd predilictions, we feel we need this person. So we give them an excuse. He/she is addicted. Not BAD. He/she wouldn't do these things except that the drug or "the disease of addiction" is controlling them. And maybe that is true. But I encourage all of the Rasputins out there who may be reading this to consider the following. You may find "addict" to be a dirty word. You may resent the label. However, without it and the concepts around it, I would have had you jailed a long long time ago. Theft by deception is still THEFT. It's still called EXTORTION, even if the physical harm you threaten is to yourself from some imaginary bully. You have behaved just like a criminal. It's actually generous of someone to call you an addict instead of a criminal. The concept of addiction allows me to forgive you. Why can't I forgive you for just being emotionally unbalanced? Because I am too, and I don't do those things. Because I know lots of other people who have had the stuffings knocked out of them by life, and they don't do those things.

I can understand Detached Alone feeling hurt and isolated, and I know that (if you are reading this) your post and your perspective stems from that. But the posts and the advice here are never about revenge. They are about protecting ourselves. Rasputin did not have to move away because I wanted to "get" him. As someone else said, my revenge, if tit for tat, would have required a lot of lying, stealing, pawning and other kinds of manipulation. He had to move away because I was getting sicker and sicker. And the sad thing was that even if he had cleaned up instantly and been all well, I would still be sick. I would still be angry, scared, suspicious, on guard, nervous, compulsive, secretive, defensive... oh, such a list I could make!

Rasputin was confused for a time about the purpose of alanon groups. He thought we were supposed to be learning ways to help the users in our lives... or maybe he just thought that's what we SHOULD be doing. But alanon/naranon, and these particular pages on this site, are about us. It's not about the addicts in our lives... although when we're spewing steam it may seem that way. We're here trying to work out what happened to us, why it happened and how we can keep it from happening again. I rarely read the posts on the addict oriented pages here. They still sometimes give me flashbacks, even when they're about nothing but trying to get better. It also is a symptom of my focusing outside my own recovery, and more on Rasputin's. I am still too raw to read those very much, though I confess, when I first came here, I did it a lot. I still wanted to "help" with something that is totally out of my hands. If the posts here hurt the "A" to read them, then maybe the "A" is too raw, too.

I think that's all the steam I have to let out today. Thanks for sharing the sauna!

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Old 12-08-2002, 08:41 AM
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Hello Dop -

WOW - I think that is one of the finest written descriptions of what this is all about, that I have ever read. I will be reading it over and over, because there is so much truth and wisdom in it that once through just won't be enough for me. And then I am printing it out to remind me.

Bravo!!! Applause and Cudos!!!!

and most of all Thank You!!!!
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Old 12-08-2002, 09:25 AM
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....and the crowd roars!!!

That is what I meant when I said..."must we??" I just said it shorter.

In a perfect world we are all working the same progam looking for the same result...peace in our souls. But in the real world it all gets muddied up with labels.

Labels ARE shorthand for alot of the behaviors that fall under that particular umbrella and it is alot easier on the fingers to call an A an A. "The Beav" is my personal preference.

Victim is another label that we throw individual who has been hurt, damaged or killed or has suffered, either because of the actions of someone or something else, or because of illness or chance.

For myself, I am an Anon. That is a label and thereby shorthand for an individual who has been victimized but is working a program of recovery.

I have also heard the label Anon hissed in uncomplimentary ways and I have never felt the need to defend it. When I hear it I first think that the hisser has probably just been handed his walking papers in one way or another. But that is the nature of MY try to understand.

I have been in my personal program for a long time and I admire any person who has been on this journey long enough to embrace both sides of the coin. For those of us who are not there is a goal worth working toward.
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Old 12-08-2002, 12:25 PM
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Wow!!!! I'm speechless. Bravo!!!!

The one thing I'll add is that there are wonderful recovering addicts on this board who will label themselves an addict quicker than anyone else.

I've told Pauline that I have a hard time with that because she is so wonderful and so much more than an addict. Sometimes it hurts me when she calls herself an addict. I'm just playing the devils advocate when I feel that way. Hers and others recovery depends on knowing that they are addicts.

My recovery depends on knowing that I'm codependent and I don't have to be involved with someone elses addiction. I didn't cause it, I can't control it, and I can't cure it. I don't have to live with it. I will always love my son, but he is an addict. He is a wonderful person when he isn't using, but he uses. I don't have to live in his disease and it doesn't help him or me when I do.

Hugs to all.

Old 12-08-2002, 12:52 PM
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Wow again....

I am truly at a loss for words. Thanks for letting me share your sauna Dop. MG, JT and anns - you are all a great source of strength and information for this gal - was gonna put a label, but seemingly changed my mind

Dop - guess from now on I will be calling my "A" - The boy as you are right - he is not mine!

Thanks and KUDOS!
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Old 12-08-2002, 04:16 PM
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No venting, I promise.

How does Anon relate to a spouse who get's cancer? Should the Anon distance themselves, make their "C" buy their own "Depends" and make them care for themselves?

If the twelve steps is all about dealing with a Higher Power, where do we find the teachings that tell us to think of ourselves first, and let our loved ones deal with their own problems.

As part of my IOP recovery program, I have to start attending one Al-Anon meeting per week, because I have a drinking, abusive wife. (In addition to AA)

Today my detached wife is sick, in some other house, and I feel awful that I am not there to tend to her needs.
I've always liked taking care of her. I just don't understand this "I come first" attitude of Al-Anon.

Not venting today, just not understanding.
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Old 12-08-2002, 05:22 PM
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Detached alone...

For me... I was sick with my codependency!!!! I have allowed my husband's addiction take complete control of my life.... I believed in my heart there was something I could do too "fix" him.... I would spend all my time and energy saving him all the time... I never allowed my husband to hit any sort of bottom....No matter what he did or who he did it too.... He has stolen thousands of dollars from me... Lied to me over, over, over, over, and over again...
I use to spend so much time trying to find the truth.... Whether my husband was really an addict or whether I was really crazy... I use to blame myself for his addiction.... I believed in my heart if I cooked a good dinner, cleaned the house, gave great sex, looked great, payed the bills, and centered my life around him that he would be happy... and that it would not be necessary for him to do drugs....
I was a worry wart... I would worry about when he was on his binge's... After he was done binging... He would always come home and tell me how sorry he was, how he wanted help, and how much he loved me... I believed him over, over, over, over, and over again....
My world use to revolve around my Husband... I would of given him the world if I knew it would keep him off the drugs...
Well I'm heartbroken now... because the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life choose to have a relationship with his drug instead of me... and with the help of al-anon/nar-anon, this site, and the bible... I have been able to find myself again... I have learned that I did not cause his addiction... That there is no way I can control it... and there is no cure... If he wants help... He knows where to get it....

In the meantime... I'm trying to get my life on track... I forgot all about me.... I realize now how sick I was and still am! I'm working on taking one moment at a time... and I'm turning my husband over to god... The only thing I can do right now is pray for him...

Well this is just my story.... I'm working on my recovery everyday...
I hope everything goes well with your wife and your own recovery... Many hugs to you...
Your friend Clowie
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Old 12-08-2002, 07:19 PM
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I may be wrong, but it seems that the 12 steps programs are just a guide.. there is no ONE answer to anything, it's all just a way of learning. Learning to take care of yourself, so you Can help others (if you want to), learning not to obsess over things you cannot control. Same example, they have cancer, you know that you can't cure that, that there IS no cure. There may be programs, or treatments that can help, but even those have varied and limited results. Sometimes that cancer isn't detected until it's too late. Other times, it's detected early, but the person chooses to ignore it until nothing can be done, or at least, the best time to take action has passed.

Just because I go to Nar/al-anon meetings does not mean that I suddenly refuse to do my husband's laundry (Im a housewife, that's part of my job in my mind). I don't refuse to let him have any cash for fear that he might go out and buy drugs (if he wants to go back to using, he'll find a way).

Don't know if I've gone off topic here, or if this makes sense. I don't think that these anon programs are about turning people into complete introverts... but it IS about learning to think in a more rational, healthy manner.

Last edited by babysteps; 12-08-2002 at 07:21 PM.
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Old 12-08-2002, 09:28 PM
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I may be in a unique position to be able to answer you Detached. The substance abuser in my life had cancer.

They have support groups for the families of cancer victims. They are not to teach you to learn to treat cancer. They are for dealing with the emotional repercussions of having such an ill person in your life. Alanon is a support group for people who need to learn how to deal with the emotional repercussions of having an alcoholic in their life. They cannot teach you to treat alcoholism. It doesn't mean you don't want the alcoholic treated. It doesn't mean you don't care if they get well. It's simply that the function of the group is to get the codependent back on track. It has nothing to do with the alcoholic.

Why do anon groups emphasize a "me first" attitude? They don't. What they emphasize is that, in a relationship with an addicted person, you are the only one whose recovery you can control. There is just not a thing you can do to change another person. So we learn to change ourselves.

From personal experience, I have to say your analogy of addiction to cancer is pretty much of a stretch. Some people get cancer from personal habits, but Dino didn't. It was one of those random types without a known cause. He didn't make any bad decisions to get it. He wasn't stubbornly indulging in behavior that kept him from getting well. The kind he had was totally out of his ability to control in any way, except to be treated or not. His drugging, on the other hand, was a decision. An action. A repeated behavior. Something that he, and only he, could control. Cancer is something you have. Alcoholism and addiction are conditions you have, too. But drinking and drugging are something you DO.

His drugging affected me in negative ways that the cancer did not. Both made me deeply sad. Both drained my wallet. But the cancer didn't make him surly, deceitful and manipulative. It didn't bring dangerous people to my doorstep. I never had to go out of town in the middle of the night to bail him out on cancer charges.

I would have crawled naked through broken glass from here to Alaska in February to help him recover from either condition. I moved a lot of mountains on his behalf. But the fact is, his drug use was simply a thing I could not affect. I tried. For years. I tried encouraging, loving, yelling, threatening, cajoling, reasoning. I bailed, bought, redeemed, pledged, borrowed, skimped and starved. I dug a mighty hole for myself doing it and made myself crazy. It was useless. So instead of trying to take care of Dino, which didn't do any good, I have learned to take care of myself. I had to let go of the notion that I could save him. It doesn't mean I don't love him. It doesn't mean I don't care if he stays well or not. It means that my being ill won't make him well, so there's no point in keeping myself sick.

I HAVE to let Dino deal with his own problems. He's the only one who can. And I have to deal with mine. Does that translate as "I come first" to you? To me it says "I am responsible for myself". And sometimes, a codependent finds that dealing with his or her own problems means getting away from the triggers. And sometimes, that means getting away from the user.

Dino had some of the same problems that you're having understanding the function of alanon. It took awhile for it to sink in with him, that the people who are affected by the user are in every bit as much pain as the user himself. I knew he got it when he coined the phrase "separate but equal hell". Your wife is in recovery, too. She has to deal with it in her own way, just like you do.

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Old 12-08-2002, 10:10 PM
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Thankyou for taking the time to answer my questions and concerns. Your feedback has been helpful.

Tonight I had an awesome meeting at IOP. It was family night, and some spouses showed up. Their participation in the discussions were very similar to your posts . We watched an Al-Anon video, which also has enlightened me.

Thanks again,
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Old 12-09-2002, 05:07 AM
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Something occured to me this morning. Through this board I have come to know more people then ever before from both sides of the street. And a few on the AA and NA boards have jumped out at me as very insightful and compassionate people. Most if not all of those people have been exposed to Alanon. Double winners.

Compassion flows from the anon forims. I would dare say that there is more compassion for the drug or alcohol abuser over here than over there.

Time after time we endure relapse, lies and broken promises...long after a sponsor dumped our loved one. Long after our loved one no longer feels welcome at AA or NA meetings. I understand the need for the stark slap upside the head..."you want to be sober? Do what I say" but a seasoned anon can be both firm and compassionate. Not an easy feat!

You are fighting for your lives and it may appear that we are only trying to save ourselves. But in reality we are fighting for your lives right along side you!

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Old 12-09-2002, 07:28 AM
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Pot shots

Detached -

I hope you will not be using this board to take pot shots at me. I sent you the link about detachment, in the hopes you would understand why i did what I did, not to invite you to another board where we could take shots at each other via the internet.
I once used to post on another message board that I enjoyed. After awhile, it became a place where you and your drinking friends would take pot shots at me for my beliefs and ideals.
Your comments about drinking abusive wife felt like a (passive agressive) cheap shot. I have already admitted that I hauled off and slapped you, have taken responsibilty, and apologized. As far as drinking, when I saw you and another woman in your truck, I went home and had one. the first I have had in many weeks, and the last I will ever have to try to numb my feelings.
I ask you to respect my need for recovery, and not turn yet another message board into a nightmare for us both.

Thanks from "your drinking abusive wife"
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Old 12-09-2002, 11:22 AM
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Hi all -

I read this a few minutes ago, left went to another post....but....just had to come back and give my 4cents.

labels - I am what I am, and that is an addict/codependent who happens, by the Grace of God to be clean and sober in recovery. I am in recovery, I will never recover. This is a process that I will live for the rest of my life.

I am not going to be my usual self and go on and on (stop cheering LOL).

I just want to thank our friend Dop for her honesty and her choice of words!!!!

My opinion in just that, my opinion. The day I stop referring my myself and an addict is the day I will use again. (MG - you understand now, I know you do my dear friend ).

I have a sister who has cancer, she has never done a drug in her life, she has never drank, not even 1 beer, she is 48 years old!!! she did nothing to cause her disease, I did, I caused it myself and I have to take responsiblity for that. The disease of addiction CANNOT be compared to a loved one with Cancer, trust me on this one. I am not anyones "A", but I think as Dop said, that is just a way to refer to people/situations we are talking about around here.

God Bless you all - like I said, I just felt the need to respond here.
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Old 12-09-2002, 01:16 PM
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My 2 cents worth


I think I'm doing good if my words are worth at least 1/2 of your's, thus my comment of this being my 2 cents worth compared to your 4.

Maybe I'm crazy but I think this thing about us calling our A's "A's" has gotten a little out of hand.

The only reason I was doing it was because I saw it was sort of the protocol here. And I thought it went along with the 'anonymous' thing of AA and Al Anon. I thought it was showing respect, not mentioning names. It certainly WAS NOT meant as a slap to my daughter. Darn if I'm not fighting for her life and mine at this point!

Geeze, I have a lot more things to put my effort into than to worry about whether I'm calling my alcoholic daughter an A, a daughter, Susie Q, 'her' or whatever on this board! The way I saw it was a generic term and a shortcut. Less keys to hit thus less room for error in my post. Bottom line, an A is an A is an A. And that is why we are in Al Anon and on this board. I don't think it matters how we refer to them. We know they are humans, we know we care about them, and hopefully we know we care enough about ourselves and will do what is right for all concerned...(that is, when WE FEEL LIKE WE KNOW what is right!) And THAT is the $20,000,000 question which could be another whole post in itself!
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Old 12-09-2002, 01:29 PM
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Hangin' -

I agree with you, and I like that, an A is an A is an A!!!

And I also agree what we or they are called is the least of our situations/problems.

by the way, I say my 4 cents, becasue today, sober, my thoughts are worht my than 2 cents!!! LOL!!!
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Old 12-10-2002, 06:38 AM
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My "A"

would probably not like me calling him that, either. However, I am not here for him, I am here for me. Even in emails with my friends, I shorten his name (and most everyones') to the first letter. I am always shortening things and personally don't have a problem with the labels as long as the people I am communicating with understand them. I don't call him the "A" at home nor to our friends and family. It's simply the way I refer to him here as a shortcut and easy way to remember. Maybe someday I will be clever enough to give him a nickname that no one else will get. At this point, I have referred many people to this site and most of the nicknames I would choose would give it away. Who knows...maybe BOZO would work? LOL He's the funniest guy I know and loves to clown around. I don't know if he'd prefer that over the "A" tho!

In the end, it's not the label that Bozo would hate as much as the stereotype that goes along with it and I don't think we adhere to that stereotype in this forum all that much. We are an extraordinarily compassionate group, as was noted before, because we are the ones desperately in love with the person with a problem and all we want is for them to be well.

Much love ~ piggle
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